Admittedly, it’s been quite awhile since my last crush with a real person. Sure, excepting Speed Racer, they’re all real people, but I’m talking about someone I’d actually met and not merely Googled or ogled on a certain nightly news program with a nice round number in its title.
There have been a few while I’ve lived in British Columbia although The Crush Era happened back when I was in my thirties. Dave was the one whom I crushed on the longest.
When I moved to Vancouver, I had one friend and he belonged to a favorite gay-friendly independent gym in the West End. Naturally, I joined. John introduced me to all his friends and, in his fatherly way, told me which steroid-taking, excessive partying guys to steer clear of—not that I was a magnet for wild ’roidsters.
Being as I didn’t mingle with the partiers, I managed to regularly make a 9 a.m. Super Step class every Saturday morning. It was “Super” because it lasted ninety minutes instead of the standard hour. The instructor was Kat, a bubbly girl who became part of my inner circle of besties, along with step cohorts John and Ashiro. Sure, it was great to see them bright and early to kick off the weekend, but my greater motivation was Dave’s presence.
Tall and lanky, Dave had killer calves—was he doing Super Steps every day in locations throughout the city? How come my calves remained chicken legs? Even greater than his calves was his broad smile. He had me before hello.
The great thing about a step class is that there are mirrors all over the room. I didn’t have a need to check myself out, but I could sneak peeks at Dave—nothing too stalkerish. While I mastered the intricate steps, I could never go into autopilot mode. Each class was punctuated by one or two (okay, more) awkward stumbles. How I didn’t break my foot way back then is beyond me.
After class, we’d all head down to Delany’s for coffee, but I’d first rush home for a quick shower so I could look my best for Dave.
Not that he ever noticed. He talked with ease to everyone, but on the few occasions when we had one-on-one time (okay, that sounded like a bachelorette on “The Bachelor”), the conversation sputtered to a stop. Yes, we both grew up in Ontario. Fancy that. Big province, considerable mileage between London and Hamilton. Yes, great step class. Uh-huh, you bet. Yeah. And...hmmm. Going next week? Uh-huh. Yeah,...me too. And stare at cuticles...
Painfully awkward. Now don’t get the impression the stilted exchange arose from mutual attraction. I’m certain it was one-sided. His failing communication skills came from utter disinterest. It was unmistakeable. That’s the problem with crushes...they defy logic. They set you up to be, well, crushed.
I hoped it would be different each week. I’d see that smile at the outset of Super Step and I’d fool myself into believing there was something new in that glimmer. Coffee would be different.
Finally, I decided to host a big party, my first since moving to Vancouver. My apartment had a large balcony and my roommate worked hours each week to create a colorful floral wall along the entire deck rail. Perfect for summer entertaining. In my home environment, I’d be relaxed, I’d be funny, I’d be charming. Dave would see another side of me.
I still wasn’t fully employed. In fact, I was without a job for the summer months so I needed to be frugal with the supplies. Unfortunately, I have never been thrifty and, with a particular guest to impress, I erred on the side of extravagance. I expected credit card companies to send me belated Valentine’s cards: Be mine. (And, oh, I was.)
I cooked up a huge pot of vegetarian chili but, insecure in my hosting skills, I went on a spending spree to stock up for every possible palate. I bought Greek, Mexican, Indian, Chinese and enough bagels, chips and dips to feed busloads of unexpected ’roidsters. (Surely word would get out.) I went to the liquor store three times, in part because I couldn’t carry everything in one trip and also because I kept thinking of other kinds of booze people might want. (Is Old Portrero a liquor or a horse biding time?)
All the booze and burritos weren’t enough. I needed something more to impress Dave. I needed new dishes. Because that’s what every gay man looks for: a great body, a good sense of humor, and a nice set of plates. I needed something masculine, yet eye popping, something to make up for my own deficiencies. With the right plate, I’d be a complete package. I splurged on a complete set of dinner plates, side plates and coffee mugs, all gleaming with a outer ring of royal blue and a central splash of what looked like an assaulted egg yolk.
I think what we can all take away from this is not a sense of bewilderment that I have been single for the past eight years but pure astonishment that I was EVER attached.
One might think I have grown since then, that I have gone beyond the Dating with Plates mindset, but when I first moved to Nowhereland after my last breakup, one of the first things I did was make an appointment with a local potter. I wanted new plates, made to order per my specifications. That’s right, single guys. I’m back on the market and I’ve got the plates to prove it!
But I digress. The party did go on. I’ll get to that in my next post.